Bush Block Project
Article by Bree Reptik and Bodhi Richards
At Western Port Secondary College, we are regenerating a .8 hectare area of bush as an outdoor educational resource and teaching space. 25 students from years 8 to 11 have created a program for primary school children within it.
Being involved in the Bush Block project gives young people the chance to be involved in something different and to learn about the environment.
We visited Somers Primary School to run a ‘pop up’ version of the program. We took students from grades prep to 4 down to the local koala reserve as part of their lunchtime activities program. 25 students from Years 8 to 11, from Western Port, took them through 4 activities focussing on mindfulness, science, art and bush play. This program has been designed by students for students.
In the science activity students played science bingo. They had to find examples of different items on a page of photos in the actual bush. When they found each object, the Western Port students talked about them. For example, when students located a nesting box in a tree, they told them what animal it was used for. The mindfulness group ran a small sensory mindfulness experience in the bush. The art group used a piece of string tied between two trees and learnt how to thread leaves onto the string with sticks. The adventure group built a cubby in the bush out of branches and sticks.
I wanted to get involved in the Bush Block project because it is about going outdoors and learning something about the environment and about animals and where they live. I like going outdoors because it is peaceful. We have so many assignments to do. Going outside I can take a few deep breaths and it helps me calm down a bit.
I was Publicity Leader in Year 7. I feel that with the publicity last year I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to step up and be a leader. I came into this project half way through the year. When I went to Somers Primary I went around to the different activities and took photos of everyone being involved. This helped me to learn about the project. I got to visualise it as well as learn about it. I like to grab an opportunity with both hands. I like to apply for every opportunity. In the future when I go to university I can go back to things I have done previously. These experiences, they stay with me.
I want to take photos because my dad was in the navy as a photographer. Most of his photos had good angles and focus and this inspired me to give it a try. My interest in this project is in being a photographer.
It’s not just writing out of a text book, you are really getting involved. You see the young people, that you are teaching, learning at the same time.
You are learning about kids’ differences and their abilities to do things. At Somers’ some of the kids were quiet and didn’t want to say anything. We had to try and get them involved, give them some confidence and give them a chance, letting them know that there are opportunities for them to take.
Being involved in the project has meant that we have the ability to make friends, talk to people and socialise. We are learning how to lead and be more sociable. At the beginning, I found it a little awkward and didn’t know what to say.
You are learning everyone’s capabilities. If you are friendly with someone but you don’t know what they are capable of, you go out there and you get to know what they can do.
I found out that once my friend learnt how to use the camera, she was quite a good photographer.
I didn’t realise that Ryan was a good photographer and I am going to ask him if he can teach me. A big part of this project is mentoring each other.
Because we are working with students from 4 year levels we are teaching each other things we don’t know. Some of the students have been in the project for three years. The older kids have more experience so it’s good to see them because you learn from them. They’re inspiring to me. That’s where I want to be when I am their age.